for some careers professional qualifications are essential while for others they allow you to develop the skills you need to impress employers in your chosen industry professional qualifications are vocational training courses that relate to a specific industry or career path. they are accredited by professional bodies, which set the exams and regulate the standards you must meet to work in certain jobs. don’t worry if you’ve already studied for a masters degree that isn’t accredited by the relevant industry body – you can usually still take the professional qualification later. the length of vocational training courses can range from a few weeks to a few years, depending on the qualification and whether you study full or part time.
many courses are structured around a number of modules that you must pass to gain the qualification. some courses are open to anyone, some require a-levels or a degree in a particular subject, and others demand a number of years of on-the-job experience. the expense of a course will generally reflect its intensity and how important it is in the context of the career path you want to follow. one potential advantage of studying for a professional qualification as part of a masters degree is that you may be eligible for a government postgraduate loan. if you decide to go ahead, remember that that the length, cost, quality and content of courses can vary significantly – so you will need to carefully assess which one will benefit you the most.
there’s a huge range of different courses that you can do, and many types of qualifications you can get, from entry level to advanced. national occupational standards are lists of skills and knowledge that employers say you need to be able to work in a certain sector. if you know what job or career you want to pursue, then this can be a good way to make sure that you develop the right skills and knowledge for that role.
if you’re weighing up your post-16 options, then some vocational courses take up more of the timetable than a single a-level, so you won’t be able to study as many different subjects. you can study up to three alongside a minimum of five core gcses (including english and maths). if you are still considering university and want to know whether you can apply with a vocational qualification, the best thing is to check the exact entry requirements for the courses you are considering. for more advice speak to your careers advisor or have a look on the ucas website.
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